Arganic (@Arganic_UK) is a new company, based in London that supplies the finest quality pure organic argan oil from Morocco. It is one of the most rare oils in the world, coming from the UNESCO protected argan tree that grows only in south western Morocco. Arganic founder Dana Elemara spent over a year researching the sourcing of argan oil and has formed an exclusive partnership with one of the most reputable producers. It takes skilled handwork and approximately 15 hours and 30kg of fruit to produce just one litre of oil. Only women are involved in this production process and their employment provides an opportunity for them to gain independence.
Meet Dana who will be at the #FBC12 Market to showcase arganic oil in a variety of recipes for attendees to taste at the conference. Her specialty bottles will also be inside the goodie bags!
So, just what is MyArganic?
Arganic supplies the finest quality organic argan oil to the food and cosmetic industry. Argan oil is one of the rarest oils in the world, coming from a tree as ancient as the dinosaurs that grows exclusively in Morocco. I spent over a year researching and meeting producers in Morocco to find the best argan oil out there. Our oil is made with ethics, love and attention to detail. We control every aspect of production and can even trace your bottle back to the tree.
What inspired you to start MyArganic?
I always dreamt of opening a restaurant one day since I’m obsessed with food, art, and people but it’s not something I could or wanted to rush into. I was looking to start up something of lower risk related to food and when a family friend was raving about argan oil and complaining it was difficult to find in the UK an idea sprang to mind. I called up all my Moroccan friends and organized my first trip, and the more I learned about the oil, the health benefits, and the social impact it plays for women in Morocco the more I loved it.
And where do you see it going?
Through Arganic I wish to help educate people about the truth behind their food. Through the argan oil industry I have learned that many of the ingredients we see aren’t what they say on the label. It takes approximately 15 hours and kg of fruit to produce just one litre of argan oil. When you see companies selling cheap ‘argan oil’ you only need to do the maths to realize it’s probably diluted and/or someone out there is getting paid next to nothing for their work. Then there are the other details, is the oil from one source? Is it cold-pressed? Have the kernels been lightly toasted or burned!? Have any artificial flavours or colours been added? All these things have made me think very carefully when buying other ingredients such as olive oils, tea, coffee, chocolate and honey. I like to see the face behind the brand. Later down the line we may choose to introduce other unusual ingredients from small producers into the brand.
Tell us a bit about food / recipes using Arganic?
Argan oil has a toasted nutty taste with a very smooth texture, it’s a versatile oil that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. In the South West of Morocco it is always on the breakfast table where it is mixed with honey and eaten with freshly baked bread, or drizzled on eggs with cumin. It is also traditionally used in couscous and Moroccan salads and a special paste called ‘amlou’ is made from ground almonds, honey and argan oil. Here we have people using it on salads, soups, in pasta, risottos, and on seafood like lobster. We’ve also got chocolatiers using it and have even had ice-cream made with our oil!
What does it this all mean to you?
It’s not easy running an import business on your own, especially as a young female. I am putting blood sweat and tears into this to make it work, I also left a good job in investment back at Goldman Sachs to pursue my dreams. This has become my life now, there is no going back for me and I wouldn’t be doing it unless I really believed in the product.
What makes MyArganic so special?
We only sell Argan oil and we know our product. We are in Morocco every couple of months spending time with our producer. Our oil comes from the healthiest argan trees (we test for pollution), we only lightly toast the kernels and never burn them which is why our argan oil is lighter in colour to some others. We cold-press to extract the oil and add no artificial colours or flavours. We are representing a producer that has been operating for 10 years and out lab tests are conducted in France. Our oil is produced ethically to benefit everyone involved and the Berber women we employ get paid directly for their time with no middle-man.
If you could only eat one dish, which would it be?
This is a very tough one! I would have to say salad, since I never get sick of eating salads. There is so much to it especially when using seasonal produce and a good dressing! Whether it’s a tomato, bread and olive salad, or using delicious ingredients such as apples, dates, feta cheese, rocket and butternut squash. There is something about eating raw foods that just makes you feel so good. My mother brought me and my sisters up eating lots of salad from a young age. As a doctor she would always add certain ‘superfoods’ such as lentils, pomegranate, and seeds to our salads and explain why they were good for us.
What effect are food bloggers having on the country’s food scene?
From a business perspective bloggers are getting names out there and getting people excited about new products like argan oil. This is why I believe twitter is such a useful tool for food businesses. The other thing I like about food bloggers is that you get to some some interesting family recipes that you may never have heard of.
What’s your favourite new ‘trend’ on the British food scene at the moment?
My favorite trend on the British food scene has to be the rise of the street food culture. I’ve always loved markets as you get to see new things and talk to people. It’s a very affordable way to eat good food, try something new, and you get to speak to the person making it.
Any particular anecdote that reflects what makes your job worth all the hard work?
At the end of the day, when you love what you do and stay true to yourself it’s easy to get up in the morning. When running your own business you do hit lows, but the highs always make up for it. Arganic has been trading for just over six months and already we will be mentioned in 2 forthcoming cook books, we’ve featured in a TV series for The Food Network, we’ve had chefs such as Stevie Parle telling us our argan oil is the best he’s ever tried and we’ve won two prestigious awards. It’s certainly exciting!
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